WHO can forget May 16, the day the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi led the party to victory in the 2014 general election. Modi’s tweet after winning — ‘India has won. Ache din anne wale hai’ (good days are coming) — created a wave on the social network site as it was re-tweeted 34,554 times within 56 minutes of him using Twitter to talk to the Indian people. Modi has been riding the social media wave for a long time. In fact, his infamous lotus selfie tweet took the social media website by storm last month. The tweet where he had posted a selfie showing his inked finger and his party’s lotus symbol was re-tweeted 3507 times. This was not the first time that political parties and their leaders used Twitter to reach out to people. The ebullient Arvind Kejriwal’s tweet for donations got his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) R80 lakh in 24 hours from across the world. Last month, Kejriwal tweeted appealing to people to donate ‘clean money’ for the election campaign in Varanasi and Amethi. Of the total sum received by the party, R16 lakh was donated by people in Uttar Pradesh, including R2.10 lakh and R2.50 lakh for Amethi and Varanasi, respectively.
Political parties, their leaders and their supporters have used Twitter from time to time to not only talk about their ideologies but also take pot-shots at each other. On April 8, the social media platform turned into a battleground as Modi delivered his speech at the annual general meeting of Ficci Ladies Organisation (FLO). Soon after he began his speech addressing the women present at the venue as his sisters, the two hash tags— #feko and #ModiStormsFICCI, divided in their praise and mockery of the leader, sprang into action on Twitter as supporters of Rahul Gandhi of the Congress and Modi rebuked each other. “So far it was felt that Facebook is the social media platform for personal communication, whereas Twitter is a medium meant for official communication by marketers and brands. This year’s general election actually helped in consolidating Twitter’s position as an official channel for communication. One can say that Twitter acted as the digital newspaper. The extensive use of the medium by political parties once again proved the important role digital plays in today’s world,” said Manish Vij, CEO and founder, Smile Vun Group, a digital media company.